Regular Medowie News Of The Area contributor and University of Newcastle academic Heather Sharp, has returned from a Study Tour of France and Belgium leading a group of 40 students, two from Medowie.
Tracing the Remembrance Trail, the battlefront of Australians serving in World War I, the group visited former battle sites, museums, memorials, and cemeteries.
Dr Sharp says, “this was an opportunity for University of Newcastle students to see how Australian history is represented in an overseas location and they were able to see for themselves the important sites where Australians served during World War I.”
“Given there is so much attention being paid to centenary commemorative events, this was an ideal opportunity to see how this major international conflict is shown to the public and education groups in France and Belgium.”
Interestingly, many of the museums told the history of World War I in French, Flemish, English, and German.
The group travelled for two weeks, from Lille and Ypres to Amiens, and finally ending the Study Tour with a visit to Paris and the Versailles Palace, the location of the historic Versailles Treaty that officially ended World War I.
Dr Sharp told News Of The Area that the Study Tour gave students the opportunity to research their own families and several grave sites were visited that students had identified as belonging to family members.
“Visiting the sites of family members was quite a moving experience for the students,” reports Dr Sharp.
A highlight of the Study Tour was stumbling across the site of the historic Christmas Truce of 1914 where both sides laid down their weapons on Christmas Day to play a game of soccer.
All University of Newcastle students who have completed eight courses are eligible to apply for the Study Tour, and plans are currently underway for the 2017 Study Tour.
In addition to leading the Study Tour, Heather also spent four weeks in Germany at the Georg Eckert Institute researching History teaching and learning and presented at an international history educators’ conference in Spain.
For more information about the Remembrance Trail, visit: http://www.ww1westernfront.gov.au/